Panaji, Aam Aadmi Party MLA Raghav Chadha on Tuesday took a jibe at Goa’s Power Minister Nilesh Cabral, saying he has “chickened out” of a proposed public debate on power tariff models in Delhi and Goa.
Chadha also took a potshot at Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.
As to Cabral’s comments to the media on Monday that he would only debate with the Delhi Power Minister, Chadha said: “These are nothing but excuses. He is an MLA, I am an MLA. He is elected by the people, I am elected by the people. He works in the Goa government. I work in the Delhi government…”
“A healthy debate should happen. He says ‘there are some protocol issues’. Tomorrow, he will say ‘because of protocol, I will not debate with someone who is wearing a blue shirt’. Then he will say ‘because of protocol, I will not debate with someone who is younger to me’,” the AAP leader told reporters after landing at the Goa airport.
Chadha also said that the AAP would make the issue of free electricity up to 200 units for domestic consumers as one of the poll planks for the party ahead of the 2022 state assembly polls.
“When we win the upcoming state elections in Goa, within 48 hours we will ensure, that every consumer who consumes up to 200 units of electricity pays no money and every consumer who consumes power between 200 to 400 units, his bill will be reduced by half,” Chadha said.
“73 percent of Goa’s consumers consumers consumes up to 200 units electricity. That means 73 percent of Goa will get free electricity when the AAP forms the government in the next state election,” the Delhi AAP leader also said.
Chadha, who is the Vice-Chairman of the Delhi Jal Board, has been engaged in a social media battle with Cabral for a public debate to prove the merits of the Goa electricity model over that in Delhi.
“I accepted the challenge. I said that as part of the Delhi government and as an MLA, I am coming to Goa for a debate with him. Now, he is running away from this debate, chickening out. He is shying away,” Chadha claimed.
“I am given to understand that the BJP high command has reprimanded the Goa leadership and scolded the Goa Chief Minister and asked him not to indulge in such public debate. Now, imagine a Chief Minister who cannot even participate in a simple debate or let his Minister participate in such activity without BJP high command’s permission. Can he govern Goa?” the AAP leader remarked.
Reacting to Chadha’s comment, Goa Power Minister Nilesh Cabral told reporters at the state Secretariat that protocol does not permit him to debate with a Delhi MLA and added that the Goa government could not give free power for up to 200 unit consumption, because the benefit would go to wealthy owners of second homes in the state who consume minimum power.
“If people of Goa call me, I will go anywhere to meet them. I do not want to talk about the person who has come to challenge me. Who is he? Let his Power Minister come and debate with me. Protocol is an issue. I have told my security, if an MLA comes from Delhi I will meet him,” Cabral said.
“If we give 200 units free, even people who have second homes will get that benefit,” he said.
Cabral last week told a press conference that Goa’s power tariffs were cheaper compared with Delhi and said he was willing for a debate on the matter.
Cabral maintained that the Delhi government was “fleecing its residents through convoluted power tariffs”, while the Goa government offered one of the cheapest power rates to domestic consumers in the country.